American Football: how midwest emo lives on

by Brooklyn Fellner

Nate Kinsella, Matt Kinsella, Steve Lamos, and “the mysterious” Steve Homes, all poured themselves a glass of red wine in the lounges of the Union Transfer. Their band, American Football, was reuniting after a much anticipated comeback. Here is what they had to say about touring, writing, and getting the band back together. 

American Football had played last in Philly at the UT two years ago, “give or take.” Although the band enjoys touring on the east coast, they said they “enjoy anywhere they’ll have us.” 

They decided to do a deluxe release of their self-titled album after proclaiming “huh people wanna hear us.” This came as an exciting announcement, as the original album, first released in 1999, has been revered as a breakthrough for midwest emo music.

Their first record seems to be a timeless token of late 90s alternative. The band described how it just keeps getting passed on and on in every decade since its release. At every show, 60- 70 percent of their audience are in their 20s or younger and they are still surprised, but enthused by how relevant their music is today.

“it  just seems like it keeps getting passed from generation to generation, it’s neat to be that for someone… even though they should be listening to different bands,” they said.

The revamp of the band is credited to Steve Lamos, who was rummaging through an old box of cassettes in his dad’s home, where he found old recordings of American Football. This rediscovery sparked an interest in playing together again, which led to their reuniting in after years of breaking off and starting families, new jobs, and adulthood. From this, came the American Football LP3 which was released in 2019 and was followed by the tour. Featured on this LP is none other than the queen of alternative herself, Hayley Williams. She lends her outstanding vocals on the song “Uncomfortably Numb.” Nate recalled this only took her three takes to nail.

In high school, the bandmates were in the homegrown punk scene. From there, this lifestyle extended further in college, when there were clusters of shows popping up in Champaign, Illinois. There were opportunities for people to play wherever they were allowed to be loud, so this usually happened in basements and garages. This idea of having DIY shows started to spread, and even if there is no end goal, the band said how they were enjoying their time in the basement regardless of the future of their music.  Through the scene, their band got more and more popular and through “dumb luck,” as described by the band members, American Football caught on.

Fast forward to now, American Football still pulls loyal audiences to every show they have played on their reunion tour. The deluxe release of their self titled album has, without a doubt, inspired an even greater appreciation for midwest emo music.

Kiss My Super Bowl Ring by The Garden

by Dominick Baglivo

Image from https://www.spin.com/2020/02/garden-kiss-my-super-bowl-ring-album/

On their fourth studio album, The Garden absolutely excel at what they have always done best—getting weird as fuck.

Kiss My Super Bowl Ring, the fourth studio album by Orange County duo The Garden, sees them build upon their weirdo-art punk sound to create their most adventurous and impressive output yet. Following up 2018’s Mirror Might Steal Your Charm, which saw the duo of Wyatt and Fletcher Shears adopt jester aesthetics, the two have now enlisted the help of what can only be described as green goblins. Whether you credit the green goblins or natural artistic progression for this is up to your discretion, but there is no doubt The Garden have never embodied their own artistic vision of “vada vada” as well as they do on Kiss My Super Bowl Ring.

From The Garden’s website, “Vada Vada is a term that represents total freedom of expression without boundaries or guidelines of any sort.” If we are discussing the boundaries of Kiss My Super Bowl Ring, let’s be very clear—there are none. The album starts out rather tame for the duo with lead single, “Clench to Stay Awake”, which—save for a mildly chaotic midsection—describes feelings of helplessness and subsequent struggles to cope over light instrumentation. From there, Kiss My Super Bowl Ring quickly transforms into the most impressive musical clusterfuck you might ever hear, in which The Garden seemingly know nothing and everything at once. 

Synth-heavy, bass-heavy, loaded with screams, Kiss My Super Bowl Ring thrives off chaos and unpredictability, shifting from one extreme to another at a moment’s notice. Perhaps the biggest surprise, and a shining example of the duo’s unpredictability, is the extent to which they have incorporated more aspects of electronic music to their already eclectic sound. Littered throughout the track list, most notably “Sneaky Devil” and “Please, Fuck Off”, you can find instances where the song evolves into or simply is based around breakbeats and drum ‘n’ bass. The duo’s willingness to experiment has always been their calling card, and they appear to have mastered it on Kiss My Super Bowl Ring by injecting electronic music into their musical backbone of fiery and chaotic punk.

Injury Reserve at The Foundry

Image from soundcloud.com

By Lukas Da Silva

Injury Reserve played at The Foundry on September 26th and it was a jaw dropping performance. The show started off with the duo “Body Meat,” a group that started as the solo act of Christopher Taylor. He eventually paired up with the drummer named Infinity (named because of his other group “Infinity Dance Complex”) to begin making their post-punk R&B amalgamations. 

This duo really brought their all to the show, creating an atmosphere of unchained imagination and sounds. Taylor was unleashing on the vocals, using autotune to further the crazy energy that he brought with his singing, while Infinity was making some really intricate and unique beats with his electronic drum pads. They blew away everyone in the audience as people looked dumbfounded that you could combine so many different noises and make it sound phenomenal. People looked taken aback by how good of an opening act that Body Meat was.

The second act, “Slauson Malone” was strange to say the least. To describe his music as experimental would be an understatement. The man used barely any lights and used some of the weirdest samples I’ve ever heard. These included flies buzzing and Amazon’s Alexa talking about the end of the world commencing. 

His music contains some of the darkest vocals I’ve heard in a long time and it genuinely scared me at times. 

Then finally, Injury Reserve came on and they brought the house down. The lighting had a chaotic yet controlled feeling that made me think the lighting was its own entity. The beats created by Injury Reserve member, Parker Corey, were so energetic and infectious that it didn’t take long before people were bobbing their heads to the music.

To top it all off, the vocals and flow of both Stepa J. Groggs and Ritchie “With a T” were top notch and filled with intense energy. The group brought so much energy that it didn’t take long before the crowd was moshing and chanting with them.

They had some awesome bangers like “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe”, “Jailbreak The Tesla”, and “Three Man Weave”. By the end of the concert, I felt like I had gone through a very intense workout and was still feeling the rush from it. My body was physically tired from rocking out so hard but mentally, I felt as hyper as ever. I left the concert very satisfied and felt that I had made some memories that would last me a long time. It was easily one of the most energizing shows I had ever experienced. 

 

A Conversation with a hoodratscumbag

Photo of Pablo Cervantez taken by Emily DeHart

It wasn’t too long ago Beach Goons (made up of Pablo Cervantez, David Orcozo, and Chris Moran) was playing house shows in the “surf punk scene” of San Diego, California and using equipment from the public library. These past few months was only their second tour, despite the large and incredibly engaged crowd. The band has been gaining more and more popularity with the release of their new album hoodratscumbags. Singer and guitarist, Pablo Cervantez, explained from behind his tiny merch table at Theatre of Living Arts, that this album is his “little baby,” and has been working on it for 2 years. He went through the process of writing in his room, in the studio, and wiping out 8 songs before he was ready to release it.

With influences from Balance and Composure, Chalino Sanchez, The Cure, and Marvin Gaye it is obvious how Cervantez’s vast music taste contributes to the perfect creation of a surf punk album.

Cervantez went into depth about how important it was that he includes his Mexican heritage in this album specifically. The listener can quite literally hear this in the several verses he belts out in Spanish (such as in the song A.M.) , an inclusion that is greater on hoodratscumbags than any other album Beach Goons has released before. He explained that growing up in San Diego as a first gen was difficult because of ridicule from greater society. He referred to the area as “the ghetto,” something that he made known he is not ashamed of. Cervantez even recalls being pushed to speak english in public by his parents, fearing that he will be looked down upon for his heritage.

With his background influencing his recent album, Cervantez explained how he is no longer ashamed of his heritage. He is simply proud and he wants his parents to be proud.

After hoodratscumbags was released, Beach Goons had the opportunity to have an Audiotree Live session in Chicago, something Cervantez grew up watching and listening to. The coordinators were very welcoming and the overall experience was amazing. Check out their session on Spotify or Youtube to hear the extremely authentic and vocally dynamic recording.

Cervantez closed in on the interview with some insightful advice for kids growing up in less fortunate areas who are told they cannot accomplish anything:

“It’s all Bull Shit!”

Cervantez recommended a documentary about the area he grew up in called Chicano Park:

Check out a full review of the show here:

https://wkdu.wordpress.com/2019/04/14/swmrs-beach-goons-and-destroy-boys-at-tla/

SWMRS, Beach Goons, and Destroy Boys at TLA

Photo of SWMRS taken by Emily DeHart

SWMRS, Destroy Boys, and Beach Goons took over The Theatre of Living Arts on Tuesday, April 9th. The crowd was close to filling the whole venue just as the opening act, Destroy Boys, stepped on stage, so it was obvious Philadelphia was ready for a night of sick music.

Photo of Alexia Roditis taken by Emily DeHart

Destroy Boys, comprised of Alexia Roditis, Violet Mayugba, Falyn Walsh and Narsai Malik, came first with a hardcore, upbeat sound. Roditis’s strong, powerful vocals filled the venue. They took time to encourage an all-girl mosh pit, something that was very empowering to the female hardcore fans in the audience. Already proving to be an all- inclusive band, Roditis went on to perform a song for the LGBTQ audience, yelling out “That’s me, bitch!” The crowd then swooned when Mayugba planted a kiss on Roditis’s forehead. The band then covered Nirvana’sTerritorial Pissings,” with spot-on, screaming accuracy.

Photo of David Orozco taken by Emily DeHart

Next to perform was Beach Goons, bassist David Orozco swigging a Yuengling as he walked on stage to plug in. The bands’ sound is like no other, the guitar having a perfect balance of surf mixed with pure, gritty punk. Upbeat drums along with catchy bass rifts ensure to grasp the attention of anyone listening. Cervantez’s voice is an extremely unique mixture of clean melodies that break into raspy, articulate screams.

They opened with “Tar,” and the crowd immediately started screaming the lyrics. A crowd this large and supportive could have been for a main act easily. Then, came the bodies. I have been to many, many punk shows, but I have never seen as many converse soles above my head before in my whole life. The bouncers were spastically trying to catch kids coming up to the front from every direction, as the rest moshed recklessly to their favorite punk band: Beach Goons. The pit was especially hyped when lead singer Pablo Cervantez repeated the lyrics

“Everybody is dead

All my friends are dead

And I’m tryin’ my best

My best to reach things”

The words were screamed over and over as more bodies were knocking into each other and flying overhead. Cervantez banged on his tan telecaster, a smile on his face the whole time. After asking to be smoked up after the show, Beach Goons closed with a surf-punk cover of “La Bamba,” something that sparked an even more intense energy throughout the crowd.

The fans for SWMRS were waving and singing along to their songs before the band even stepped out onto the stage. SWMRS opened with “Trashbag Baby,” a song that drew immense energy from the audience. The band, made up of Cole Becker, Max Becker, Joey Armstrong Jakob Armstrong (both sons of the frontman of Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong), and Seb Mueller had a bit of a 90s punk boy band style mixed with some modern pop-punk influences.

Photo of Cole Becker taken by Emily DeHart

There was clapping and dancing from the barricades all the way up to the line of parents in the back of the venue, the audience knowing every song from the first note of the bassline. After requesting a circle pit be formed, singer Cole Becker referred to the “wall of death” mosh pit as a “wall of love,” encouraging the fact that “once you walk through those doors, you’re joining a community.

The band was extremely interactive with the crowd, often stopping the show to talk with individual audience members from the stage. Becker then explained how important it is to recognize any form of sexual harassment that may go on during the show, asking for the band to be told if this happens so they can stop the show and “kick that mother f***** out!!!!!” The announcement was followed by “Berkeley’s on Fire,” a song about such issues and moving forward as a community.

The SWMRS tour definitely had a killer line up, proven by the large and engaged audience which was excited to see all of the bands. This may be the tour that brings Beach Goons to the next level of popularity, with such a large crowd going off the walls for their new album. This only being their second tour, it will be exciting to see how much they, along with Destroy Boys and SWMRS, grow as they make their way from city to city.

All photos taken by Emily DeHart

Instagram: @emm.jd

Live from the Batting Cages, an Interview with Hot Flash Heat Wave

Photographed by Ryce Salazar, Instagram @rysaphoto

Hot Flash Heat Wave continued their very first tour as headliners at Everybody Hits! last Tuesday, March 5th. After being led to the upstairs “green room,” I got the chance to speak with them about touring, good food, garage rock, and their new EP, Mood Ring.

Before their own tour and growing popularity, Hot Flash Heat Wave started as many other bands do: in a garage. The band is made up of Adam Abildgaard, Ted Davis, Nick Duffy, and newest addition (who plays his guitar upside down), Jared Johnson. Adam, Ted and Nick all met in high school and played with the garage scene in the Davis California area, a town just west of Sacramento. Abildgaard explained “It’s all you’ve got when you’re 16. It was great,” and incredibly true and challenging fact.

Mood Ring is out now
https://open.spotify.com/album/20mebssKVj5iNwybufE5oV

The DIY scene, as the bandmates explained, allowed them to create their own platform for themselves and their friends in a time when they were too young to play real venues. Not fitting into the normal scene at their high school led to an interest in going to garage shows to meet other people who didn’t feel as though they fit in either. The scene was an odd, yet close-knit group of people who felt ironically close with other outcasts.

From bunkers on the beach of the Secret Show Society to various house venues, Hot Flash Heat Wave found their popularity was growing. They said they miss playing DIY shows, treasuring that part of their lives they had, calling it “magical.” The band said they felt as though in that time, people truly appreciated the music they were seeing because of the closeness of the audience and the band.

Because it was their first time ever headlining, Hot Flash Heat Wave said the experience of touring was very different… both stressful and cool. Earlier this year, they opened for The Frights and toured alongside the surf-punk band. They explained that there is much more inspiration to perform for people who are actually showing up to see your own band. This is different from being an opener or supporting band, they said, because they felt as though they were trying to “win over” the audience with the first impression of performing as an opener.

Touring on the East Coast seemed like a different country to the bandmates, who appreciated “all the bricks,” in Philadelphia. Through touring, Hot Flash Heat Wave has discovered that every area of America is cool in its own way and have found that there is an incredible amount of like-minded people. This was proven especially in Florida when the band was expecting a low-energy scene but were surprised to perform for kids that were going absolutely crazy for their music.

With exposure to so many different places comes exposure to endless restaurants and food stops. Some of their favorites included Voodoo Donuts, and an extremely hospitable, on-the-house korean joint in Austin TX. The Keyboardist and guitarist, Jarred Johnson, went on about this restaurant in specific, which is located next door to the well-known venue Barracuda’s. He said after the workers refused payment and tip, he felt as though someone had “Punched (him) in the heart.” As for Philadelphia, singer and guitarist/ singer, Ted Davis, was disappointed when he received a philly cheese steak that was missing the cheese…. He forgot to say “with,” I am assuming, a critical use of philly slang.

As of right now, Hot Flash Heat Wave is re-inventing their sound, which can be heard in their newest EP, Mood Ring, which is “lyrically more personal.” Their new music, as explained by Adam, is a more psychedelic take on their west-coast surf style. He went on to list a few other influences which included 80s synth, R&B, 70s, and soul. This is different from their last album, Soaked, which they explained as having a more 60s/ Beatles-esque sound.

If you have listened to their music, one would notice how unique each album is from the others, but the Hot Flash Heat Wave sound still exists. They explained how it is fun to reinvent their sound and how there shouldn’t be any rules when making new music. “It gets stale if we do it over and over again,” Adam said.

The band was also able to do an AudioTree session. They explained they were very nervous about the session, as they did not know the seriousness of the opportunity prior to accepting the offer. It was explained as extremely comprehensive but was still a really cool experience.

The music videos Hot Flash Heat Wave releases are endlessly artistic and visually stimulating. When asked about the process of such videos, drummer Nick Duffy explained that they partnered up with Boredom, a company that helped them make the trippy, cartoon video for Raindrop as well as the retro, chaotic Gutter Girl video. He went on to describe how Raindrop, specifically, was a large production that included over 30 artists and custom costumes. Ironically, one of their more successful videos, Glo Ride, was filmed all by the band on an old camera and the vision for this video was simply wanting to be “emo cowboys.” The singer and guitarist, Adam, was especially excited about the Glo Ride video because he was able to ride a horse for the first time, exclaiming “It’s about damn time. Get me on a Horse!”

With the success of their latest EP and tour, Duffy said to “keep your eyes peeled,” for a new record that will hopefully be on the way this year, following Mood Ring.

After the interview with the three extremely friendly, passionate bandmates, the show began with Field Trip and Early Eyes, two incredibly energetic and charismatic bands. The venue, Everybody Hits! Was lit up with christmas lights for a makeshift stage, as there was no actual stage, allowing the bands and audience to be right up close and personal with each other. Hot Flash Heat Wave particularly took advantage of this and took the mic into the crowd to dance with the kids who came to see them.

Photographed by Ryce Salazar, Instagram @rysaphoto

An intimate show came to an end when the band did two encores and they jokingly refused to do “the whole walking off and coming back on again thing.” Hot Flash Heat Wave proved their spot as headliners with an absolutely kick-ass show, following the interview which showed me the incredible process of getting out of the garage and headlining your own tour.

A Conversation with Wicca Phase Springs Eternal

Image from Primary Talent International

Above the Fillmore lies a secret world with red velvet walls and giant sectional couches, dim lighting and high ceilings, surrounding a bar. This secret world is known as The Foundry, a small upstairs venue that is part of The Fillmore which presented a Secret Boy, AKA Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, on Wednesday of last week, February 27th, after the recent release of his album “Suffer On.

Wicca Phase hails from Scranton, PA, so this night in particular was chosen as his tour-opener and release show for his new album Suffer On which came out on February 25th. The 5 openers ranged from rap to hardcore and included Choice to Make, Guardian, Lil Zubin, Fantasy Camp, and Angel Du$t. Later on in the night, Wicca Phase, whose off-stage name is Adam McIlwee, walked on-stage eager for his first show on tour.

Commenting that he expected 150 less people to be at the show, the whole room was packed with fans of all the openers as well as Wicca. Although Wicca Phase is best known for his goth sound with long, droning, emotional lyrics, he was incredibly charismatic, often breaking out into smiles and laughs at the end of verses. His unique voice is unheard of in the traditional rap scene, with his drawn out and deep moaning lyricism, a genre of rap that is incredibly nichey that seems to only be successfully executed by groups such as Goth Boi Clique and Misery Club, which he is a part of.

One could say his alternative lyrics and approach stem from when he was in in the band Tigers Jaw, where he can be heard singing similar themes of heartbreak and uplifting music paired with the harsh realities of being young and unhinged. When asked about this, he replied saying he writes songs the same way he did when he was in Tigers Jaw, and being in the band helped him develop into a better writer.

In addition to his entire family and girlfriend supporting his home show, a familiar (and tattooed) face, Lil Tracy, made a cameo from the sidelines of the show. It was obvious that McIlwee had an incredible support group as his friends and family alike enjoyed the show just as much as the screaming kids in the audience.

After chants for an encore, Wicca Phase came back out and performed “Absolute in Doubt,” a song he collaborated on with the late GBC member and friend Lil Peep. An emotional end to an incredibly intimate show was the perfect way to kick off his North American Tour.

“It wasn’t somethin’ that I thought aboutBut, knew that you were absolute in doubt”

After the show, I waited… and waited… and waited until the floor cleared and Wicca appeared again to collect some of his belongings from the stage and greet the fans who hung around after the show. I got the chance to have a short interview with him with the last few minutes he had. I leaned over the barricades to ask a few questions…

)O(

Why did you choose to have your album release show in philly?

Adam: It’s the closest place to my hometown where people will actually come to a show, yeah.

Okay, so GBC seems to have started the whole emo-rap genre, do you feel like you have personally contributed to the creation of it?

Adam: Uhhhh, maybe inadvertently, I just wanted to do, like electronic music and this is what happened.

Can you elaborate a little bit on your name?

Adam: Uhh, not too much, it was given to me by an internet artist that I knew and I asked her for a name and that’s what she came back with, um I think it was kind of a troll, like, uh, that I was just going through a “Wicca Phase” and but it stuck.

So did being in Tiger’s Jaw, a more alternative band, help create your style that you have now or did you just want to do something different?

Adam: No, it probably did, I only… I only know how to write songs one way. And I wrote songs like that in Tiger’s Jaw and I write Wicca Phase songs the same way, but I got better at writing songs while I was in Tiger’s Jaw because I practiced.

)O(

After the brief interview and a few pictures, it was apparent that Wicca truly was happy to have dedicated fans who enjoy the different type of music he creates. Even more so, performing seemed to be something he will never take for granted, as I could tell he was trying to deliver the same emotions and feelings he had when creating his music to the crowd in front of him.

His set was filmed which you can check out here: